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Mobile working is on a tipping point

Mobile working in the UK is on the verge of a ‘tipping point’. As it rapidly becomes far more common to work away from the office, desk-based working will soon be the exception, rather than the rule.

In 2017, more than half of UK businesses are likely to have adopted flexible working policies, and more than 70 per cent will have followed suit by 2020, according to a report from the Work Foundation at Lancaster University.

The report highlights organisational culture, which it states is pivotal in addressing barriers to mobile working, particularly for those employers who are worried about a fall in productivity or employees taking advantage of the flexibility.
Mobile working can only be effective when the benefits to the organisation and the individual are aligned and when they are enabled with sensitivity to employee needs, rather than enforced.

To make the most of the benefits and avoid the pitfalls, the report suggests three key stages to successful implementation:

Leadership – senior management have to lead by example, build trust and effect cultural change so that performance is measured on output rather than visibility
Policies – mobile working needs to be supported by transparent policies that are agreed with staff, with new approaches to performance management focusing on outputs and not hours worked
Planning –implementation of new technology to facilitate mobile working takes planning, it should be done with a testing and trialling approach, rather than a blanket approach.

Dr Cathy Garner, director of Lancaster University’s Work Foundation and report author, said: “The evidence is showing a clear trend towards a more flexible way of working in the UK as the hurdles are overcome by fresh innovations in technology and people management.

We believe that employees and their employers will benefit from the ‘virtuous circle’ created, whereby improved job design, work organisation and trusting relationships lead to healthier, happier and more productive workplaces.”

Author: Sarah Naylor, employment law solicitor

Are your workplace policies fit for purpose? If you need help drafting or implementing policies, talk to us. We are experienced employment law solicitors and can give you the expert help you need. Call 01302 320621 or email

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